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At Grenfell Tower, 24 stories of non-compliance

Bill Coffin | June 19, 2017

Compliance saves lives. If you ever doubt it, just consider the Grenfell Tower fire, a horrific disaster that occurred in London on June 14. The tower is one of England’s council-owned apartment blocks—low-income, public housing—located in North Kensington, the wealthiest section of the most expensive city in Europe. The tower housed as many as 600 people in 120 apartments. It was built in 1974 and recently underwent a nearly $11 million refurbishment, which included installing new aluminum composite cladding on the outside of the building to improve its appearance. The cladding essentially consists of thin plates of aluminum composite that sandwich a layer of flammable polyethylene in between. UK Building Regulations forbid the use of such cladding in buildings over 18 m in height, yet there it was, installed on Grenfell Tower, which stood 67m tall; nearly four times the legal limit.

Around 1 am June 14, a fire broke out in the tower. One account said a tenant reported an... To get the full story, subscribe now.